The Van Wert County Courthouse

Thursday, May. 28, 2020

Youth assessment results often surprising

Editor’s note: This is the third and final article in a three-part series detailing results of the 2015 Van Wert County Community Health Assessment. This article centers on youth health assessment results.

DAVE MOSIER/independent editor

While Van Wert County young people mirror state and national statistics in some of their health findings, there were still some surprising statistics in the Van Wert County Community Health Assessment released earlier this week, especially in the area of alcohol use.

The assessment’s first health factor was obesity, with 18 percent of young people in grades 6-12 classified as obese. That increases to 20 percent when teens in grades 9-12 are assessed. The figures are both above state (13 percent for those in grades 9-12) and national (14 percent for those in grades 9-12) averages.

Tessa Elliott, a graduate assistant with the Hospital Council on Northwest Ohio, talked about health information for Van Wert County young people. (Dave Mosier/Van Wert independent)
Tessa Elliott, a graduate assistant with the Hospital Council on Northwest Ohio, talked about health information for Van Wert County young people. (Dave Mosier/Van Wert independent)

Another 16 percent of local youths are considered overweight, which is in line with both state (16 percent) and national (17 percent) averages.

Surprisingly, local young people are more active than their Ohio and U.S. counterparts, with 61 percent saying they are active at least 60 minutes per day every day in the past week. That compares to 48 percent of Ohio youngsters and 47 percent of American youths.

However, county young people who watched three or more hours of television was higher than state or national averages. Thirty-nine percent of county youths said they watch television at least three hours a day, versus 28 percent of Ohio youngsters and 33 percent of young Americans.

Bullying and its effects remain a problem across the country, with 15 percent of county youths saying they have been cyber/electronically bullied in the past year, which is right at the state and national average. Three percent of those said they did not go to school because they felt unsafe, which is below the Ohio (5 percent) and national (7 percent) averages.

To counteract the bullying, 13 percent of local youngsters said they carried some kind of weapon in the past month. That compares to 14 percent of Ohio young people and 18 percent of young Americans.

Alcohol use by young county residents is a surprisingly high number, but nowhere near the state or national average. A total of 42 percent of county youngsters in grades 6-12 say they have tried alcohol, a figure that increases to 56 percent for those in grades 9-12.

But 71 percent of Ohio youngsters and 66 percent of young Americans in grades 9-12 say they have tried alcohol.

Of the county youngsters who have tried alcohol, 18 percent of those in grades 6-12 (27 percent for those in grades 9-12) say they are current drinkers. Binge drinking is also a problem, with 16 percent of young people in grades 9-12 saying they have drunk five or more drinks at a sitting. The figure tallies with the state average, although nationally, 21 percent of youths in grades 9-12 report they have been binge drinkers.

One troubling local statistic is the number of young people in grades 9-12 who have ridden with someone who was drinking. Twenty-three percent of county youths in grades 9-12 said they rode with someone who was drinking. That’s well over the state average (17 percent), but about that of the national average (22 percent).

Nearly half (48 percent) of local youngsters obtained alcohol from someone giving it to them. That compares with 38 percent for Ohio youths and 42 percent for young Americans.

Although many county residents have seen local youngsters smoking, cigarette use is low here, compared to the state and national averages. Nineteen percent of county youngsters in grades 6-12 have tried cigarettes, while 5 percent are current smokers. Those figures increase to 29 percent and 7 percent, respectively, for youths in grades 9-12. But young local smokers are nowhere near state (52 percent) and national averages (41 percent) for those who have tried cigarettes, while 15 percent of Ohio youths and 16 percent of young Americans say they are current smokers.

When it comes to drug use, the good news is that local statistics are lower than the national average for marijuana use (7 percent, versus 21 percent of Ohioans and 23 percent of young Americans), while those in grades 9-12 who have been offered, sold, or given an illegal drug on school property (7 percent) is substantially lower than state (20 percent) or national (22 percent) averages.

However, the assessment did not ask about heroin use among young people, even though use of that drug has increased substantially in Van Wert County in the past few years.

Local youngsters are also more backward than their state and national counterparts when it comes to sexual intercourse, although they also don’t use contraceptives as often either. Thirty-two percent of county teens in grades 9-12 say they have had sexual intercourse, compared to 43 percent of Ohioans in grades 9-12 and 47 percent of young Americans in those grades.

Of those who have had sex, 47 percent used a condom, while 13 percent were on birth control pills. A total of 51 percent of Ohio youths and 59 percent of young Americans used condoms, while 24 percent of Ohio youths and 19 percent of young Americans are on the pill.

POSTED: 04/30/16 at 8:33 am. FILED UNDER: News